1 John 1:9 Explained | Christians Don’t Need To Ask To Be Forgiven – Here’s Why
Understanding 1 John 1:9 – Is confession required for forgiveness of sin? 1 John 1:9 reads “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
This verse is commonly cited and interpreted as meaning God forgives our sins AFTER we confess them, and before that, you’re sort of in limbo and distant from God. The problem is you won’t find other verses that say confession if required over and over for the removal of sins, and this doctrine would fly in the face of many of other verses teaching that our sins have been forgiven, washed away, and remembered no more.
First, let me say that we are not anti-confession. As believers confession is good (not required) and it simply means we agree with God that sin is bad.
With that said, here are the PROOFS that CONFESSION is NOT required For a Christians’ Forgiveness.
The main scripture cited to support this theology is 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” What those who teach this fail to realize is that this verse is addressing unbelievers who need to confess sin and accept Christ to be forgiven.
Their false teaching may sound spiritual, but keep in mind that only blood forgives sin, not your words or prayers. Your role? Hear and believe with real faith. In a moment we will look at 1 John 1 verses 8, 9, and 10 and you’ll clearly see that the writer at this junction is addressing NON BELIEVERS, not Christians. But first, it’s important that we look at the first 7 verses to see what the author is saying leading up to this, and in this case, we’ll see he is describing people that don’t believe in the full identity of Christ.
Beginning in verse 1
[1 John 1:1-2]What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—
So the people being addressed are not believing everything they have heard, and we are getting an eye witness account. Next, we see words like we have ‘touched’ and ‘seen’ Jesus. These are physical descriptions from the eyewitnesses, saying “He’s real”. We saw Him. We touched Him. We heard Him.
[1 John 1:3] what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us;
He said “so that you too may have fellowship”, so apparently they don’t have this fellowship right now.
[1 John 1:4] and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
[1 John 1:5] This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;
He saying God is light and if you say you have fellowship and are not walking in the light then you’re a liar.
[1 John 1:7] but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Note, not some sin. The blood cleanses all sin. Not just when you remember to confess them one by one.
Now let’s carefully look at verse 8
[1 John 1:8] “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
Who says they have no sin? Nonbelievers do. The TRUTH is Jesus, and He is in Christians. Who is the TRUTH not in? Non-Believers.
[1 John 1:9] “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Did you notice the word “IF”. If this is written to believers then your forgiveness is conditional based on your actions, not Jesus. So “IF” you forget to confess a sin it would not be forgiven and you would go to hell (under this false teaching). But what if the truth is that this verse is really about sharing the gospel with non-believers? Think about it. What would you say to a non believer? You’d say “if you confess to God that you are a sinner and believe in Jesus He will forgive you of ALL your sins and cleanse you of all unrighteousness.
And then in verse 10 the author gets back by saying BUT if you don’t….
[1 John 1:10]” If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”
Again, who says they have not sinned? Nonbelievers. Who is God’s word not in? Non-believers.
We are by no means anti-confession – in fact, we believe confessing our sin is part of the natural Christian life, but not for the forgiveness of sins, but rather because we are sincerely sorry. Know this, your sins are not being forgiven day by day (i.e. Old testament blood of bulls and goats) but rather your sins have all BEEN forgiven once for all (Jesus Blood).
[Hebrews 10:1-2] “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would NO LONGER have had consciousness of sins?
[Hebrews 10:9-10] “BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE FOR ALL.